* See the Top 70 China-made brands and Top 393 models by clicking on the title *
The Chinese new car market manages a third consecutive month of double-digit year-on-year gains in July and its largest since January 2013 at +26% to 1.6 million passenger cars excluding commercial vehicles, partly due to a low base a year ago when the market suffered a 2nd consecutive month of decline, and partly the fruit of the halving of the purchase tax on small-engine vehicles to 5% last October. Vehicles eligible for the tax break surge 39% year-on-year this month to 1.144.000 units. Once again SUVs are the main engine of growth in China with deliveries up a whopping 46% on July 2015 to 587.532 just as MPVs are up 36% to 146.816 and sedans grow 20% to 833.440, the segment’s fastest pace in years. This very robust July result means a record 12.65 million new cars have found a buyer so far in 2016, 11% ahead of the same period a year ago. The overall market including cars, trucks and busses stands at 14.7 million units in 7 months, 9.8% above 2015.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “with the tax break due to expire at the end of the year, many dealers have put countdown timers on their websites or stores to encourage consumers to buy cars by the time 2016 comes to an end”. The China Automobile Dealers Association says inventories have fallen to a one-year low in July, signaling quickening demand. However economic indicators point to a further slowdown of the Chinese economy in the second half of 2016 and early 2017 car sales could suffer greatly from anticipated sales before the tax break expiration – unless the government decides to prolong the tax break.
Among major carmakers reporting deliveries to customers (and not dealers), the Volkswagen Group is up 16% to 285.900 sales, leading to a year-to-date total up 8% to 2.148.000. Sales of Volkswagen-branded models are up 17% to 210.500 (+8.5% to 1.601.900 in 2016), Audi is up 10% to 46.454 (+6.5% to 336.580 YTD) and Skoda is up 16% to 21.400. General Motors for its part is up 18% to 270.529 sales, riding on excellent results by Cadillac (+90% to 8.757), Buick (+30% to 89.404), Baojun up 66% to 44.320 despite the cooling off of the 730 (-21%) and the 560 (#18 vs. #7 YTD) while Wuling recovers at +6% to 97.728 and Chevrolet continues to struggle at -15% to 30.287. Year-to-date, GM deliveries are up 6.8% to 2.081.005.
For the first time, Honda Motor outsells its two main Japanese competitors Toyota Motor and Nissan Motor thanks mainly to the tremendous success of its SUV lineup (CR-V, XR-V and Vezel) although the carmaker’s gain is widespread: one-third of its 18 models progress by more than 30% this month. All-in-all, Honda gains 39% to 102.319 sales, Toyota is up 6% to 97.700 and Nissan is up 9% to 91.700. Meanwhile Ford Motor Co. is up 15% to 88.190. In the first 7 months of 2016, Honda is up 21% to 646.054, Toyota up 14% to 689.900, Nissan up 4.5% to 701.700 and Ford up 6% to 652.836.
Over in the premium aisle, Mercedes soars 26% to 37.277, gaining ground on BMW up 19% to 40.200 with Audi up 10% to 46.454 while year-to-date Mercedes is up 32% to 257.276, BMW up 8.5% to 287.753 and Audi up 6.5% to 336.580. Even more impressively, this Mercedes score is achieved in the absence of E-Class L sales, as the redesigned and locally produced model will go on sale in September. Among Chinese carmakers, Great Wall jumps 45% to 68.976, helped by price cuts on its best-seller the Haval H6 SUV, that now has a starting price of 88.800 yuan (US$13.395) down 24% from a year ago and the continuing progression of the Haval H7 leading to Haval sales are up 50% to 60.002, while Great Wall pickups are up 36% to 7.688 while Great Wall sedans are down 32% to 1.286. Year-to-date, Great Wall is up 12% to 519.228.
As a reminder the figures detailed above reflect sales to customers and for the most part include imports. They may therefore differ from the brands table displayed further down in this article. In the China-made brands ranking, Volkswagen (+32%) reigns supreme above 200.000 sales, followed by Honda (+46%), Buick (+42%), Toyota (-13%), Hyundai (+29%), Nissan (+23%), Ford (+29%), Changan (+28%) and Haval (+54%). Geely (+62%) steps inside the Top 10, dislodging Beijing Auto (+84%), with Dongfeng (+63%), Zotye (+116%), GAC Trumpchi (+120%) and Roewe (+133%) posting the largest year-on-year gains inside the Top 30. Thanks to the arrival of the Renegade, American carmaker Jeep signs its 2nd record month of locally-produced sales at 12.551. This month we welcome two new Chinese brands: Cowin (#38) and Borgward (#45) which we will study in a lot more detail shortly in our monthly focus on the All-new models. Finally, notice the imploding of DS (-61%), still hailed as a tremendous success back in France (?) and Fiat down 77% as its range has never been expanded beyond the original Ottimo and Viaggio.
Model-wise, the Wuling Hongguang reclaims the top spot for only the 2nd time in the past 6 months thanks to sales up 33% to 42.178, the result of both price cuts and the new, larger S1 variant. The Haval H6 is up 69% to #2, knocking the VW Lavida down to #3. Below the Buick Excelle GT up a brilliant 79%, the GAC Trumpchi GS4 (+127%) celebrates one year in market with a very first incursion inside the overall Chinese Top 5. Inside the Top 25, the VW Jetta, Santana (both at +75%), Ford Escort (+110%), Buick Envision (+54%), Toyota Levin (+63%) and Kia K3 (+152%) post spectacular gains.
As described above, Honda justifies its historical month with splendid scores by its SUV lineup: the CR-V is up 54% to rank 3rd in the segment, the XR-V up 39% to #6 and the Vezel up 38% to #8. The Chery Arrizo 5 confirms its 2nd spot among Chinese sedans at #33 with a record 11.135 sales, only outsold by the Geely Emgrand EC7 (15.876, up 40%) but above the Changan Eado down 19% to 8.295 and the Geely Vision up 39% to 8.213.
An army of recently-launched Chinese SUVs break records this month: the Geely Boyue SUV jumps into the Top 50 for the first time at #41 (+34 spots on June) and posts its very first 5-digit month at 10.129 sales, the BAIC Senova X35 is up 36 ranks to #64 with 8.005 sales, the Dongfeng Fengguang 580 up 33 to #68 and 7.541, the Geely Emgrand GS up 50 to #74 and 6.728, the Lifan Myway up 11 to #107 and 4.978, the Haval H7 up 26 to #118 and 4.079. Reversely, a few blockbusters get hit: the Changan CS75 is down 40%, the Brilliance V3 down 67% and the Changhe Q25 down 111 spots on June to #242. Among foreigners, notice the Jeep Renegade up 84 spots on last month to #120 and 4.050 sales and the Cadillac XT5 up 40 to #138 and 3.580.
Full July 2016 Top 70 China-made brands and Top 393 models below.